In a very strong post by Lada Ray, Wake Up, the Soldier of Ukraine!, a reader Paul commented the following:
You know, seeing how the Poles and Galicians view Russia, I would say that Russia’s attempts to sweep things under the rug with ideas of Slavic brotherhood and such were not wise. Even within the Ukraine, Eastern Ukrainians saying “We are brothers” while Western Ukrainians said “We are not brothers” didn’t work out so well. It might have been better to say “We are cousins; we don’t always agree, but let’s work together when we can.” A bit of an overgeneralization, but you get the idea. The point is that you have to stand up for yourself in this world, and get your position across, particularly when it seems like you are facing a bully.
One can make the case that the Soviet and Russian leadership wanted a huge Ukraine that contains too many groups and cultures as a way to prevent NATO or nationalism from gaining territory. The drawback is it really isn’t a normal country, and this made it easy for the West to take over with Bandera types.
I think that the reason Russia was not overly-concerned with brotherly nations forgetting the positive aspects of Russia, was because Russians themselves would not forget or deny the help that they receive and would not think it necessary to remind of such acts in return. In a way, reminding someone of the acts of kindness from you can be viewed as an insult. Turns out it was not so self-evident that reminders were not in order…
It looks like the common Poles still remember, though, as illustrated by the following article by Georgij Zotov, published in Argumenty i Fakty on the 15th of January. Translated to English below, by yours truly.
G. Zotov is a travelling journalists, living in various, often dangerous, parts of the world and getting to know the local people. His articles are always a revelation about the moods of the people “lower down”, often contrasting with what we hear from MSM from the “higher ups”.
The title is a refrain on the wartime march Farewell of a Slavic Woman.
The Sorrow of a Warsaw Woman. Why Poland is not happy to be liberated from fascism?
January 17, 1945, the Red Army entered Warsaw, throwing the Nazi troops further West. 70 years have passed since then – a round number, but today Polish authorities do not plan to conduct any celebrations. Maximum – formally lay wreaths at the cemetery mausoleum where Soviet soldiers are buried. Over the past few years both in the school textbooks, and at the level of parliament and the government of Poland it was repeatedly stated: nothing good came from liberation of Polish people from fascism, “just one tyranny was replaced by another.”
“The Poles would have disappeared completely”
– Such statements are an elementary nonsense, – says columnist for the weekly Nie! Maciej Wisniewski. – If it were not for Russians, the Polish people would have disappeared as a nation. Just over 6 years of occupation, the Nazis killed 6 million Poles. I do not argue, the Soviet army brought with it a system which some people did not want to take. But for me, something else is important: thanks to this event ovens and gas chambers of Auschwitz stopped working. Alas, it is now fashionable instead of gratitude, to reminded of the faults of the Soviet Union in the partition of Poland in 1939, the shooting of officers at Katyn and the establishment in our country of the communist regime. I would not be surprised if the politicians of Poland will soon assert that the Second World War was started by the USSR, and the Germans – cultural people, built schools and kindergartens, that they had a real order.
Indeed, with every passing every year, fewer and fewer people in Poland know about what happened on January the 17th, 1945. This is the result of a new historical policy of the Polish state – the liberation from the Nazis was called the “occupation.” Poland has a new “big brother” – the United States – and a new enemy – Russia. And you should speak badly about the enemies. Not September 1, 1939, the day of the German invasion of Poland, and the brutal bombing of Warsaw “gets” more attention on TV, but the 17th of September, when the Red Army took control of Western Belarus and Western Ukraine.
“Always blame the USSR”
The Soviet army is also blamed in the failure of the Warsaw Uprising in August – October 1944. “Bad Russians did not come to our aid, so 70% of the city was destroyed, killing 200 thousand of civilians.” The revolt was raised without warning and the urgent goal was to proclaim in Warsaw the power of the Government in Exile before the arrival of the Red Army – but who is interesting in knowing the truth? All that was bad in Poland, is from now on blamed on the USSR. Fortunately, not all Poles believe the propaganda. “You see these houses, decorated like in antiquity? – a 52-year-old teacher Kazimierz Marek asks me while walking with me in the centre of the Polish capital. – Warsaw lay in ruins, but the engineers, building materials, machinery, construction workers were sent here by the Soviet Union, and the whole city was erected anew with Russian hands. It’s a sin to forget such a thing.” In 2011, under the pretext of building a metro area, the monument to Soviet Army soldiers, known as the “Four sleeping ones”, was dismantled from the Vilnius square of Warsaw. On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the liberation the nationalists started to protest against the return of the monument – they dropped leaflets, held rallies. However, it should be noted, all’s right in the heads of the Warsaw citizens – according to opinion polls, the majority of residents were in favour of the return of the monument.
– 650 thousand Soviet soldiers laid their lives on the Polish soil, – says Cyprian Darchevsky, known journalist and political commentator. – We should look at them as ordinary people, young men who went to death not with a dream to install a tyranny, but with a sincere desire to free Poland from the Nazi invaders. Personally, I support the fact that the Poles should honour their memory, treat them with gratitude and respect. We now hear voices: we would have been able to throw Germans out of Warsaw ourselves, without the help of the Russians! … Well, well. Polish cinema is worth taking a look at to see what a “formidable” force we were: we had a spy Hans Kloss, and four tankers and a dog … Is it so difficult to simply say “thank you” to Russians?
Trams without “Untermensch”
During the Nazi occupation of Poland, it lost 21.4% of its population. During the period of 1939-1945, the country was dismembered: Western region attached to the Third Reich (by sending in two million German immigrants), and in the east there was established General Government of Reichsleiter Hans Frank. Colonists were given the best land and homes, confiscating them from the local residents, with hundreds of thousands being driven out. Poles were considered “Untermensch” second-class nation – they could not even go to the same tram with Aryans. The worst SS concentration camp in human history worked on Polish territory – Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek. The Germans destroyed nearly 40% of the buildings, a third of the population was homeless. Is it better than what happened later? Of course, the execution by the NKVD of thousands of Polish officers in Katyn is a heinous crime (and the Soviet Union and later Russia extended to the Polish people its formal apology). Yes, a regime was established for 45 years in Poland, which was not a sweet for us. But nobody destroyed Poles as a nation, their country was an independent state, even under the influence of “big brother” in Moscow. Republic has risen from the ruins in the shortest timespan possible with the Soviet money. But they prefer to simply turn a blind eye on this fact in modern Poland.
“Many aged people remember the stories of their parents about the 17th of January 1945, welcoming the Russian tanks with flowers – said Maciej Wisniewski. – Do not judge all Poles by our politicians and the press.” Arriving at the cemetery, mausoleum of Soviet soldiers, I met a old Warsaw woman. A sad woman of about 80 years old, leaning on her stick, went to the obelisk, and put cloves.
– Thank you, Mrs. – I said in Polish.
– No, it’s thanks to the Russians – she said, guessing at my accent.
Rolling up the sleeve of her coat, the woman showed me a flat scar above the wrist. I understood it all without words. This trail usually remained when, immediately after the war, people liberated from Auschwitz “erased” the tattooed camp number…